Tag Archives: africa

#StopKony: Activism Or Exploitation?

Courtesy The (U.K.) Independent

By Arturo R. García

The online campaign against Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony gained serious momentum online Wednesday. But so have questions regarding the organization behind hashtags like #StopKony.

The group, Invisible Children, has said it released its latest video (TRIGGER WARNING for one scene) to help spur action leading to Kony’s arrest “and set a precedent for international justice.” Between YouTube and Vimeo, the 30-minute short film has been seen more than 21 million times since being released Tuesday. In addition, blogger Scott Ross noted (emphasis his) that the campaign, “took up six of the top ten trending topics on Twitter, and ‘Kony’ and ‘#KONY2012′ accounted for 3-4% of all tweets.”

The video, narrated by Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell, was released days after the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a report saying Kony’s paramilitary group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), had engaged in 52 new attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing at least 35 people, abducting 104 others and leaving more than 17,000 residents displaced from their homes.
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How Can Fashion Create A Better Relationship with Africa?

(L-R) Thakoon F/W 11, Louis Vuiton S/S 12, Thakoon F/W 11

By Guest Contributor Rafael Flores, cross-posted from Fashion Mole

Fashion’s conflicted love affair with Africa is on again. Louis Vuitton featured cobalt and berry Masai prints for its S/S 12 menswear show last June, while Thakoon fused Victorian tailoring with traditional East African patterns for F/W 11. Critics unanimously exalted both collections. Nicole Phelps of Style.com hailed Thakoon’s showing as “his freshest, most alive collection in a while,” and The New York Times Magazine proclaimed Louis Vuitton as the “winner” of Paris Fashion Week for menswear S/S 12, with radiant quotes from SHOWstudio, who hailed the collection as “hugely handsome, confident and clear.”

Sure, the clothes were beautiful, as they tend to be from practiced and esteemed labels like Louis Vuitton and Thakoon. But the use of African aesthetics for the financial and cultural benefit of the West conjures a host of unanswered questions: Is this practice exploitative? What image of Africa does it create in the West? Should designers give back to the communities from which they benefit?
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Lebanon: Memoirs of an Algerian Transsexual

By Guest Contributor Simba Rousseau, cross-posted from Her Blueprint

Threatening emails, phone calls, constant surveillance by secret police and eventually prison couldn’t dissuade Randa, an Algerian transsexual and pioneer in the Arab world’s gay and transsexual movement, from going public with her life story.

“I returned home to Algeria from my last trip and that’s when the threats to imprison me started,” says Randa, who received initial threats via email and phone. “As a method of intimidating me, they started sending articles about me to my family, and they would show up at my workplace. Once, while being stopped at a checkpoint, one of the officers grabbed me in the car and told me that he could arrest and rape me and no one would know about it.”

Convinced by influential members of Algerian society, two of Randa’s friends were forced to present her with an ultimatum. Leave the country in ten days or things will get worse.

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Race + Comics: DC Comics Monkeys Around Yet Again

By Arturo R. García

It’s bad enough to screw up. But DC Comics can’t even say nobody warned them in advance of its’ latest faux pas.

The map above, posted by DC this past Friday, shows the lay of the land in its’ latest crossover story, Flashpoint, a limted series set on a screwed-up version of the current timeline.In the first issue, we get some of the particulars behind the map shown above:  this version of Earth is in danger of being overrun by a war between the Amazon nation of New Themsycira, led by Wonder Woman, and Atlantis, ruled by Aquaman.

In America, an ad-hoc alliance of heroes and villains gathers to discuss how to face the growing threat, only to splinter apart when this world’s Batman – no spoilers here – doesn’t join up. While the series will center around Barry Allen, aka the Silver Age Flash, it was at least good to see Cyborg in a position where he could figure into the bigger outcome. Maybe.

The premise is questionable enough on its’ own – “it’s telling that the only independent nation of women in the superhero mainstream is here being associated so definitively with sexual abuse, to say the very least” writes Colin Smith at Too Busy Thinking About My Comics, “and, once again, organised mass violence.” – but what really set some readers’ antennae off Friday was the notation under Africa: Ape-Controlled.

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Libya: Uprising Revives Entrenched Racism Towards Black Africans

By Guest Contributor Simba Russeau

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi’s use of African mercenaries to quell the uprising against his autocratic regime has revived a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans.

Though most will deny its existence, in Libya discrimination is common not only against migrant black Africans, but also against darker-skinned Libyans, especially from the south of the country.
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Kakum National Park and Cape Coast Castle in Ghana: A Personal Essay

The canopy walkways of Kakum National Park

By Guest Contributor Eccentric Yoruba, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

Our next guided tour was to the Kakum National Park and Cape Coast, which is home to several colonial castles. Once more we woke up really early in the morning and got into a bus with other Nigerians and off we went on our two hour journey to Kakum. The national park is famous for its canopy walk, which has several hanging walkways above a thick forest. Apparently, some people find the canopy walk challenging and cannot go through it, that is totally understandable. It took a while walking through the forest until we reached the walkways. One by one, we were guided to them, but not before we were warned not to swing the walkways and to refrain from such behaviour.

There are seven canopies in total. I took the shortcut, which means I walked through only three. “Are you scared?” one of the men– presumably a safety guide–asked me when I turned left for the shortcut.

“Yes, I am absolutely frightened,” I replied even though I had a huge grin plastered on my face and had paused to take a picture a few moments ago. As I walked hastily through the shortcut, I heard the man say behind me, “You’re lying.” In front of me a little girl was crying while her mother told her not to be scared: “We’ll soon reach the end.” I felt sorry for her.

Part of the reason I had chosen the shortcut was because I wanted to see Cape Coast. To be honest, I was dreading it at the same time because I’d heard stories; of the slave dungeons and the Door of No Return, of people breaking into tears while there, and I wasn’t ready to be caught unawares by several strong emotions and end up crying in public.

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HAPPENING: The World Festival of Black Arts & Culture

by Guest Contributor Rob Fields, originally published at Bold as Love

World Festival of Black Arts and Culture Promo v. 2 from BKFN.org on Vimeo.

#WishIWasThereNow

Okay, I’m a little bummed that the family and I aren’t spending the holidays in Dakar, Senegal. I mean, how hot would that be? And then to be able to attend this festival, only the third of its kind? Wow. I just learned about this from our friends over at Society HAE, who have a correspondent there. So, we’ll all have to live vicariously through Raquel Wilson’s dispatches, which I will post here as they’re available.

It’s a multidisciplinary event that features a broad range of art, including architecture, dance, theater, literature, visual arts, etc. The music program features artists such as Manu Dibango, Archie Shepp, Youssou Ndour, Angelique Kidjo, Somi, The Refugee All Stars, Akon, and a ton more from across the diaspora.

In the meantime, here’s some background on the festival:

In 2010, the focus of the world will be Africa. At the heart of sporting news with the recent Football World Cup, the continent is also celebrating fifty years of independence of French-speaking Africa. It is in this context that we present the third World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, an international event which has been entrusted by the African Union to his Excellency Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal.

Initiated by President Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first edition of the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures was held in Dakar in 1966. The first Festival brought together people from all generations and disciplines in order to make the rest of the world aware of the struggle and persistence of Black peoples in the face of colonization. In 1977, Nigeria hosted the second edition.

The 2010 Festival conveys a new vision of Africa as free, proud, creative and optimistic. With Brazil as the guest of honour, which is a country rich with artistic cross-pollination and cultural diversity, the Festival will emphasize dialogue between peoples and cultures.

Access to the Festival will be free in order to encourage people from all over to participate, and many of the educational activities will be focused on engaging children.

We all have a duty as sons, daughters and friends of Africa to do everything we can to make this unique event a resounding success, an experience that will ignite the African Renaissance.

Love the part about it being “an experience that will ignite the African Renaissance.” That’s a win in any book!

Open Thread: NYT Op-ed Argues to Derecognize Certain African Nations

by Latoya Peterson

Reader BW sent in this op-ed published in the New York Times, which argues that the world should stop recognizing certain African nations. Pierre Englebert, of Pomona College, believes this will end many of the problems on the continent:

[F]or the past five decades, most Africans have suffered predation of colonial proportions by the very states that were supposed to bring them freedom. And most of these nations, broke from their own thievery, are now unable to provide their citizens with basic services like security, roads, hospitals and schools. What can be done?

The first and most urgent task is that the donor countries that keep these nations afloat should cease sheltering African elites from accountability. To do so, the international community must move swiftly to derecognize the worst-performing African states, forcing their rulers — for the very first time in their checkered histories — to search for support and legitimacy at home. Continue reading